Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 6 2011 Contents DEFENCE MAGAZINE
THE LAST WORD
Balancing career and per-
sonal commitments can
be a juggling act. One option
for people looking for a bet-
ter work/life balance is job
sharing. Bronwyn Madge and
Shelley Daws from the Senior
section have made the most of
their job sharing experience,
and speak with Defence Maga-
zine on how they have made
an important and rewarding
contribution to the Depart-
ment while raising young
How long has each of you been
employed at Defence, and what
does your position involve?
Bronwyn: I started at Defence in
1993, so I’ve been here nearly 19 years.
I’m now Director of Senior Leadership
Communication, but before this I job-
shared for 12 months with Shelley as a
communication adviser in the section.
The section’s role is to provide strategic
communication advice to the Secretary.
We suppor t his leadership through targeted
communication products, including
speeches and messages.We also manage the
Senior Leadership Group website.
Shelley: I’ve been with Defence
for nearly 10 years, in several
communication roles. For the
last 18 months I have been the
Assistant Director Senior Leadership
Communication. Our work is aligned
with the Secretary’s priorities for
Defence. We also coordinate external
communication for the Secretary,
Were you both employed full
time, and what was the catalyst
for entering into a job sharing
Shelley: I’ve worked in varying
degrees of part-time for seven years,
since the birth of my first child. My
mother became unwell at the end
of 2009 and I was looking for an
opportunity to reduce to two days a
week to assist her.
Bronwyn: I went part-time after
having children. I have three young
children and want to remain their
primary carer until they are all in
primary school. Shelley and I were
looking for similar things and that’s
when we discussed the idea of job
sharing. We’d known each other for a
long time before we job-shared. We have
different strengths and we also have a lot
in common. We’re both very proactive.
Shelley: Bronwyn and I took our
job sharing proposal forward and we
received support from our Division
An experience shared
head.We essentially created the
Bronwyn: It helps that we both get
along well – we’re relaxed and committed
to making the arrangement work.
Shelley: Because we have other
responsibilities outside of work, we
make sure to make the most of our time
in the office.There have been times
when our workload has peaked and
we’ve worked beyond our normal hours.
We’re happy to do that – to be flexible.
We both enjoy our work and will put in
extra time to get the job done.
What hours do you work, and
how much flexibility was there in
negotiating who would work when?
Bronwyn: Last year when we job-
shared, I worked three days a week
and Shelley worked two days with
no crossover. Our situation changed
this year and I was promoted into the
Director role so our hours are now a
mix of longer and shorter days. I work
three days in the office and several
hours from home each week. Shelley
has continued with two days in the
office plus extra hours from home.
We’re always looking to the future and
anticipating the peak work periods while
also considering personal commitments.
And we’re always thinking about how
we’re going to operate as a team.
Shelley: We’ve incorporated handover
time into our week to make sure
everything is picked up and followed
through.We are conscious of not letting
anything slip through the cracks.
Bronwyn: It’s been important to
have systems in place – the handover,
a shared email account and regular
communication have been essential.We
have very open lines of communication
and that has helped to make sure we’re
What are the main benefits of
job sharing? Has it improved your
Shelley: Part-time hours have
enabled our work/life balance. In
terms of job sharing, I see the benefit
to the workplace is having two minds
for the cost of one. Bronwyn and I
have different and complementary
Defence assists its employees to balance their work and lives through the provision of flexible working arrangements and
conditions, flexible leave arrangements and by promoting well being in the Defence Enterprise Collective Agreement
skill sets.We have always looked at
this arrangement with the onus being
to make it work without negatively
impacting the workplace.
Bronwyn: We work closely,
bounce ideas off each other. It’s a very
collaborative approach.There is a
perception that part-time staff can be
a burden but in reality, part-time work
and job share arrangements can be an
advantage for managers. I think if staff
have the right work/life balance, they
are happier and more productive.You
also get loyal employees.
What aspects of job sharing
have been the most difficult to
Bronwyn: I think the unplanned
absences can be tricky. Usually, we’re
able to organise our time to get the job
done.When someone gets sick or has a
sick child it can make things difficult.
Shelley: But we both have the right
attitude – we try to be flexible and
we don’t mind working from home to
ensure we achieve deadlines.
Bronwyn: Timing of holidays is
something we have to manage carefully.
We both like to have leave during school
holidays so there is a bit of negotiation
there. Having remote access through
DREAMS helps – it means I can keep an
eye on where things are up to.
Shelley: I’ve been really aware of
the perceptions and misconceptions
that people have about part-timers and
job sharing: that we can’t achieve or
contribute, that we’re ‘never there’.
So I’ve worked hard to counter that
as much as I can, by being flexible,
doing additional hours from home and
ensuring we’re achieving our objectives.
Bronwyn: We agree that it should
never be a case of the team having to
pick up after you. Our tasking is quite
clear. I’m conscious of checking that I’m
delivering on expectations. I’ve found
that it’s better to be upfront and honest
if you’re facing difficulties. Better to
address it at the beginning so it doesn’t
become an issue.
Shelley: The other challenge is
having the confidence to negotiate part-
time hours. In the past I have resisted
applying for jobs because of the assumed
expectation that I would have to increase
my hours, but that hasn’t been the case.
How does the Department benefit
from you having a job sharing
Shelley: Our colleagues and
managers have been happy with our
performances – they can see that
it is working, that we are achieving
outcomes, and beyond.
I see it as a privilege to do this job, to
work part-time and to have such strong
support from our senior managers.
Bronwyn:We have both been at
Defence a long time – almost 30 years
between us.We have good networks
and corporate knowledge. Defence
has invested in us through training and
development.We want to work in
this organisation. By supporting a job
share arrangement, or part-time hours,
Defence is getting the benefit of those
skills and knowledge. I think we show
there are advantages to working part-
time and job sharing.We approach it
flexibly and we don’t have to be chained
to our desks to achieve results.
“Defence has invested in us through training and
development. We want to work in this organisation.
By supporting a job-share arrangement, or part-time
hours, Defence is getting the benefit of [our] skills
– Assistant Director, Senior Leadership
Communication, Shelley Daws
Making the most of a job sharing arrangement is Shelley Daws (left) and Bronwyn Madge, from the
Senior Leadership Communication section. Photo: Leading Seaman Paul Berry
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